Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Child Abuse Awareness… Year-Round


By Sarah Juerjens, Crittenton Centers’ Former Child Development Center Coordinator

It seems as though every month we recognize some sort of awareness in an effort to bring attention to a variety of important topics. Every year, April is designated as Child Abuse Awareness Month, but wouldn’t it be great to recognize this important cause year-round? Protecting children is everyone’s job and we need to work together to do so. Two of the factors known to prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect are knowledge about parenting, and social emotional competence of children.

Protecting children is everyone’s job.
Everyone should help protect children because they are not able to communicate the way adults can. If you have a reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused or neglected, gather as much information as possible and contact the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

Children need to learn how to regulate their emotions.
Tantrums are common in children, especially those around two to three years in age. There are many ways to help foster children’s social emotional development so they learn how to self regulate their emotions. One of the best ways is to develop a cozy corner. Cozy corners help children gain tools in how to appropriately communicate. Here are easy steps parents can take to create a cozy corner in their home:
• Place cozy seating items, such as pillows and beanbag chairs, on the ground in a private area in your home, preferably away from the busy areas and in a corner.
• Place soft items, such as stuffed animals or dolls, in the cozy seating area so children have soft items to cuddle or squeeze.
• Place books and pictures about feelings in the cozy area so children can begin to understand their feelings in addition to what good choices they should make. A way to involve your children with this piece is to make their own feelings book. Take pictures of your child making faces that show each emotion, then place the pictures in a photo book and label the emotions for your child to reference later. There are also many great children’s books available for helping children understand their emotions and expectations.
• Using a cozy corner properly is crucial to its success. A cozy corner is not a time out, but a more proactive approach to disciplining. If your child is angry, take him to the cozy corner and talk about it. Read one of the books about being angry and look at pictures of children who are angry. Talk about how that feels and what he needs to be happy. Eventually your child should go to the cozy corner on his own to think about his feelings and what good choices he should be making. This is also a safe place for your child to go during a temper tantrum. If your child is having a tantrum, take him to the cozy corner to help him resolve his tantrum and help him understand a better way to handle his emotions.

Parents are their children’s first teacher.
Children are trying to understand their feelings and they only know what you teach them. If you yell when you are angry, then your child will yell when he is angry. If you are angry, leave the room and take deep breaths until you are calm. Think about what to say before speaking with your child. If you act calm when you are angry, you are teaching your child that he can do the same. Children are learning their boundaries and constantly testing them, so remember to remain consistent. After a long stressful day at work it would be easier to allow your child to watch television after dinner. However, if you have made the rule that there is no watching television after dinner, then there is no exception to that rule. Once you break your own rules, your children will think it is acceptable for them to break your rules as well. Establish clear expectations and follow through with consequences. If you tell your child that he is not going to the park if he does not clean up, then you must not take your child to the park if he does not clean up. Remaining consistent and following through will help your child understand boundaries and consequences.

For additional information about preventing child abuse or for services pertaining to child abuse or parenting, call Crittenton Centers at 309-674-0105 or visit our website at

Photo credit: ambrozinio/Thinkstock